Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Learning to Communicate

The first two days of back-at-work went better and worse than expected. Much stuff was easier than I expected - and my sneaking fear that I wasn't going to have anything to do with myself was certainly unfounded. I am overwhelmed with things to do and they’re both good meaty things – a press release and a letter to the editor on an immediate and pressing public issue, letters following up on the recent election, and less meaty things - letters of thanks and expense tidying-up after that conference.

Some people are easier than others to communicate with. (To protect anonymity I am going to refer to all colleagues as “her” in our female-dominated office, although some of the people mentioned are male.) One coworker strongly resists writing; she will say a sentence over three, four, five times while I wait patiently holding out paper and pen. Another is trying very very hard but isn’t good at writing; she writes a word and then tries to ‘fill in’ the sentence with gestures and lipreading. What I must remember is that people – not only in my office where many don’t speak English as their first language, but in any situation – are at varying degrees of literacy and comfort with their ability to write, spell, use grammar and make sentences. So I need to be patient and helpful too and fill in the gaps as much as possible.

I am now beginning what is promising to be a long and groan-inducing process with a provincial government department to get coverage for some of the equipment I will need at work (a TTY for example). I am so looking forward to the excruciating obstacle course of referrals, consultations, approvals, and paperwork which are already being lined up for me to jump over and crawl through to get 50% of my organization’s costs recovered. But I should not complain, because they ARE covering 50%, right? Mustn’t start taking some kind of victim / entitlement attitude.

I am also arranging to take an ASL course but it doesn’t start until August 9 – what a long time to be handicapped in communication! But husband is learning fingerspelling which will be HUGELY helpful especially when driving; he can’t write notes but just fingerspelling one word can put a situation, question or conversation into context. (Here's a link to my favourite fingerspelling chart online.)

We have also learned the signs for “WHO” “WHAT” “WHEN” “WHERE” "WHY" and “HOW”. You can point to a book and you can mime eating but you can’t point to a what or mime a when.

Of course, we have also learned the sign for “CAT", and since a considerable amount of everyday conversation revolves around them, that is helpful too. (“Did you feed the cats?” “Have you seen the cats?” “Did you know one of the cats has in one fell swoop ruined our hundred-year-old dining room table?” [true]) (The link to “CAT” above is a frame direct-linked from the ASL Browser, an online sample from a commercial CD and a great resource.)

My CAT scan has been scheduled for July 20; later than I'd hoped. Maybe the CI evaluation will happen sooner.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home